Redknapp has a point to prove at QPR

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It’s difficult to tell who will be the most relieved party after QPR moved to replace Mark Hughes with Harry Redknapp in the most predictable managerial change of the season.

…Redknapp knows that at 65, the opportunity to take over at QPR may be the last top-flight role in his career. He will also feel that he has a point to make after being sacked by Spurs in the summer and overlooked by the FA for the England job.

In a sliding scale of a manager’s motivational ability, Hughes and Redknapp are currently polar opposites. Redknapp has been licking his wounds for five months and is clearly ready for a new challenge, while in Hughes, QPR fans must have felt shackled to a manager lacking any real fight to lead a charge up the table. They will undoubtedly be buoyed by Redknapp’s arrival, even though the club’s current predicament poses a much stiffer test than his revival of Spurs in 2008/09.

As Redknapp is always keen to point out, he arrived at White Hart Lane when Spurs were rooted to the foot of the table with only two points from their first eight games. But QPR’s meagre tally of four points from 13 matches is a far bleaker situation, considering the new manager also has a weaker squad to work with.

The magic of Spurs’ recovery is often over-hyped and it should be remembered that Redknapp cannot claim a 100% success rate in performing his vaunted trick. His reign at Southampton resulted in the end of the club’s 27-year stay in the top flight and unless he gets off to a good start at Loftus Road, a similar fate could await the Rs.

But the key difference between then and now is that Redknapp has something to prove. He would argue that he has been unfairly treated in the past year and that motivation, coupled with his renowned ability to get the best out of players, provides the Rs with plenty of reasons to be optimistic. There is enough quality within the squad for QPR to claw themselves out of trouble and Redknapp can provide the spark that Hughes was lacking.

While Matt Stanger feels that Redknapp has a point to prove at QPR, we hear more from the man himself through The Guardian, excerpted below.

Rangers have not won away from home in the league for more than a year, their overall record one of weak underachievement damning an experienced squad struggling to accept life in a relegation battle. Derby accumulated only 11 points in 2007-08 but even they had more, six, at this stage of the campaign.

The 65-year-old is at least used to walking in on a crisis and has initially been a firefighter in each of his last four jobs, but his admission that this is his greatest challenge to date was telling. David Beckham sent a text on Saturday wishing him luck. Levy telephoned offering the same. He may need it.

Ideally the revival will spark at Sunderland on Tuesday, the new manager’s first task to coax spirit from a team whose confidence feels brittle. “People keep saying we have a good team, but how do you only have four points at this stage?” he said. “Something’s got to be lacking. It’s different to Tottenham where I went eight games into the season [in 2008 when they were bottom with two points] but they had a squad full of ability. Here, we are short but we know what we have come into. We have to find a way to bring the group together and win some matches.

“They should be embarrassed by our position. You can talk to players all day and those who aren’t playing will blame those who are playing. Those who are in the team will blame somebody else. But something has got to be wrong. An excellent manager has got the sack, and I’ve got to put this right quickly. We need effort and people having a go. I’ve got no time for people losing the ball and throwing their arms up in the air, or standing around with their hands on their hips. We’re in a relegation battle. We’ve got four points. It’s their fault, nobody else’s. I need to see people chasing, working, running and closing down.” This is back to basics though, after the year he has endured, that might just suit Redknapp.

“I guess the whole year has been a bit bizarre, how it all finished up for me at Tottenham … but that’s life. The day Roy [Hodgson] got the England job I didn’t go and lock myself up in a room. It’s only a game, only a job. The night Daniel sacked me at Spurs I didn’t want to jump off the climb in Bournemouth. No grudges. I went and played golf.”

That did not tally with the picture he had painted moments earlier of a manager who is “knocked for six” every time a game is lost, but such are the contradictions in Redknapp. His assertion that he had not discussed transfer targets for the mid-winter window should also be taken with a pinch of salt, though it is clear Rangers should be happy to have him. Had they dawdled, he might have been attending a press conference in Kyiv as Oleh Blokhin’s replacement.

“I was excited about it and spoke to Andriy Shevchenko, and would have taken it had this not come along,” he said. “Sure, the England game [in September 2013] would have been difficult. But, if I’d been in charge, it’s not as if you can say: ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter if we don’t win.’ I would have been sent down the salt mines.

“But now I’m here, and I’ve not come for a short-term fix. I want to build a side. Look at West Bromwich Albion: it took them three or four years, but they have found players who complement each other. You can’t just throw a group of players together and say: ‘There’s a team.’ It just doesn’t work that way. No, this really is a challenge.” Rangers must hope the recovery is kickstarted on Wearside.

Is Harry the right man to turn QPR around? What will he do to the expensively-assembled squad in the days ahead and will he spend even more of Tony Fernandes’ money in the upcoming transfer window? Share your thoughts with us.

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